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Hogan meets with Trump administration officials

The Trump administration proposes dramatic cuts to the State, health and education departments while ramping up defense spending and $4 billion for construction of a border wall.

Gov. Larry Hogan met with three members of President Donald Trump's cabinet Wednesday pressing to prevent cuts to the state's health care access and to win funding for major transportation projects, the governor's aides said.

The meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Washington came a day before the House of Representatives plans to vote on the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a program that could reduce the federal money Maryland receives for expanding Medicaid access.

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Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said it was the governor's fifth direct appeal to Price. He said the popular Republican was leaving it up to the state's congressional representatives to lobby their colleagues on Capitol Hill.

"The message is the same," Mayer said. "We want to protect our Medicare waiver, we want to protect the level of funding that we have, and we don't want to see people lose their health care."

Four Democratic members of Congress visited Annapolis Monday to urge Hogan to speak more forcefully about the ways Maryland relies on provisions of the Affordable Care Act targeted for repeal.

While in Washington, Hogan was also scheduled to meet with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to press for his top transportation priority: a $155 million federal grant to help defray the $445 million cost of expanding the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore.

The railroad tunnel, built in the 1890s, cannot accommodate freight trains carrying shipping containers stacked two high. Officials say it creates a bottleneck that slows the movement of freight out of the port of Baltimore, and inhibits the port's growth.

The governor also planned to press for four other top projects: widening Interstate 81 in Western Maryland, building new I-95 access to the Port Covington development in Baltimore, replacing the American Legion Bridge that carries traffic on I-495 between Maryland and Virginia northwest of the District of Columbia, and plans for a high-speed, magnetic-levitation train between Baltimore and Washington.

The governor also talked with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about a program to help people with student debt buy homes and another to demolish vacant houses in Baltimore.

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